In a recent series, we examined the United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) spectrum. In this series, we’ll review the elite components within the conventional British forces. We will start with one of the U.K.’s most renowned units: the Royal Marines, an elite amphibious commando force of the Royal Navy.

The Royal Marines (RM), or Bootnecks as they call themselves, are a part of 3 Commando Brigade. They are a key component of the U.K.’s Rapid Reaction Force, on perpetual standby to deploy anywhere in the world. Royal Marines are engaged in counter-piracy, counter-narcotics, and counterterrorism operations. Royal Marine Commandos have deployed to Afghanistan and played a significant role in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

3 Commando Brigade

The main combat elements of the Royal Marines are the battalion-sized commando units: the 45 Commando and 40 Commando. 42 Commando is a Maritime Operation Command (MOC) specializing in maritime security operations and foreign training missions. It organizes each commando unit into six companies that each make up platoon-sized troops. Each commando battalion contains specialists in mountain and arctic warfare, identified as mountain leaders. Mountain leaders are skilled in cliff assaults, high-altitude combat, skiing, and arctic warfare.

Specialized Royal Marine subunits

  • The Fleet Protection Group of the Royal Marines was originally known as the Comacchio Group. This specially qualified and equipped group of Royal Marine Commandos are responsible for the security of Britain’s nuclear weapons.
  • The Brigade Patrol Troop is a special reconnaissance unit belonging to 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. The Brigade Patrol Troop inserts ahead of an amphibious landing or other RM operation to collect vital intelligence.
  • The Royal Marines Reserve is comprised of civilian volunteers. The Reserves are intended to reinforce regular soldiers with additional manpower as required.
Fleet Protection Group of the Royal Marines

Royal Marines training

Those who wish to join the RM must first pass the Potential Royal Marines Course (PRMC), a three-day course held at Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) at Lympstone, Devon. During this course, the recruit’s suitability for life in the Royal Marines is assessed during the following:

  • Gym test one
  • Bleep test
  • Press-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Swim test – Tarzan drill
  • Assault course
  • Weapons familiarization
  • Interview
  • Three-mile run
  • Gym test two
  • Realities Of training presentation
  • Debrief

Next, potential Royal Marines will head down to Lympstone for 32 weeks of punishment. The Royal Marines training program is one of the toughest, if not the toughest, military selection process in the world. Grueling fitness tests, lack of sleep, and being pushed to the limit physically and psychologically for 32 weeks will weed out those who have no place in the unit while preparing those with adequate mettle with world-leading military tactics. Should candidates pass, they will be awarded the coveted green beret.